Untreated wastewater from colonies flows into the river

The Uyyakondan river, which has been bearing the brunt of urban pollution in recent years, has virtually turned a reeking and stagnant sewage drain, now that release of water for irrigation has been suspended.

Although the problem has been rampant along the stretch of the river between Palakkarai and Ariyamangalam all these years, a large number of open drains now join the river upstream of Puthur of late.

The mushrooming of residential colonies in the area behind the Collector’s office and the Puthur MGR Statue Junction has become a major cause for pollution.

While some houses in these colonies are linked to underground drainage system, the others are not.

Consequently, sewage from households and apartments run straight into the river. With the release of water from the Cauvery being stopped during this non-irrigation season, the stretch between Puthur Weir and the MGR Statue Junction has now turned into an open drain, with brackish and foul-smelling water stagnating end-to-end. The river suffers more pollution downstream in Palakkarai and Ariyamangalam.

Residents living along the river bank upstream of Puthur complain that they are faced with a health hazard owing to the pollution. This apart, students of a school located along the river are exposed to the hazards posed by the pollution.

“A foul odour hangs in the air as the sewage remains stagnant. The river has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Some people even dump garbage into it. Construction debris could be seen dumped along the banks,” says N. Sumathi, a resident of SBI Officers Colony. She points out that the locality was one of the greener parts of the city until a few years ago.

The Forest Department had raised teak plantations along the river.

“When water flows in the river, we use to enjoy a pleasant breeze. Now, the advantage of the locality has turned into a negative aspect,” she says. She suggests that the river bank be developed into a walkers’ track, providing the much-needed lung space in the city.

Some of the residents point out that open defecation is rampant along the river bank. They say that Vannarapettai, located on the other side of the river, had become a dengue hotspot last year.

A senior citizen from the locality regrets that repeated representations to the district and civic officials have evoked no response.

With the river being maintained by the Public Works Department, Tiruchi City Corporation officials have been adopting a hands-off approach to the problem, one of the residents alleged.